Paperback Ancient Philosophies

By (author) William Desmond

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  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Format: Paperback | 296 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 211mm x 23mm | 363g
  • Publication date: 28 October 2008
  • Publication City/Country: Berkerley
  • ISBN 10: 0520258614
  • ISBN 13: 9780520258617
  • Sales rank: 1,142,602

Product description

Far from being pessimistic or nihilistic, as modern uses of the term 'cynic' suggest, the ancient Cynics were astonishingly optimistic regarding human nature. They believed that if one simplified one's life - giving up all unnecessary possessions, desires, and ideas - and lived in the moment as much as possible, one could regain one's natural goodness and happiness. It was a life exemplified most famously by the eccentric Diogenes, nicknamed 'the Dog', and his followers, called dog-philosophers, kunikoi, or Cynics. Rebellious, self-willed, and ornery but also witty and imaginative, these dog-philosophers are some of the most colorful personalities from antiquity. This engaging introduction to Cynicism considers both the fragmentary ancient evidence on the Cynics and the historical interpretations that have shaped the philosophy over the course of eight centuries - from Diogenes himself to Nietzsche and beyond. Approaching Cynicism from a variety of thematic perspectives as well - their critique of convention, praise of natural simplicity, advocacy of self-sufficiency, defiance of Fortune, and freedom - William Desmond offers a fascinating survey of a school of thought that has had a tremendous influence throughout history and is of continuing interest today.

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Author information

William Desmond is Lecturer in Philosophy at the Milltown Institute, Dublin, and author of The Greek Praise of Poverty: Origins of Ancient Cynicism.

Review quote

"Provides a good starting point for interested students to gain the background necessary for contemplating the deeper ramifications of Cynic philosophy."--Dialogue